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Announcing the First POV Hackathon

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POV Hackathon

What might you get if you paired a handful of documentary filmmakers with expert web developers and told them they had 36 hours to re-invent the documentary for the web?

It’s no small task, obviously, but it’s a question we’re going to pose in August when we host our first POV Hackathon, which we’re announcing… right now!

Now all we need are some documentary filmmakers with a digital vision.

Is that you? Head over to the POV Hackathon page at to get more information. (Online applications are due Friday, June 29, 2012 at 5 PM Eastern Time.)

Note: The hackathon weekend will take place from August 11 to 12, 2012, a Saturday morning to Sunday evening in Brooklyn, New York. Before applying, please consider that POV will not be paying travel, accommodations or expenses.

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Adnaan Wasey
Adnaan Wasey is the Executive Producer of POV Digital, which leads new storytelling iniatives for the PBS documentary series POV. Follow him on Twitter @adnaanwasey, Google+ or LinkedIn. Five documentaries he's into (today): 1. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse 2. Hoop Dreams 3. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters 4. Sweetgrass 5. Last Train Home
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  • Tracy Droz Tragos

    I so much appreciate the thoughtfulness of this article – and indeed, as one of the filmmakers of RICH HILL, we are in the midst of executing on just such a proposal. Many organizations and
    influencers with whom we are aligning have told us straight up that they appreciate that our film does not have a specific “ask,” and that we might ultimately be more effective – however these things get measured – because of that. Happy that there is this conversation. Tracy

  • WesleyDumont

    I’d add The Last Train Home to the movie that made me think of this – when I found out that it was shot on a camera that typically doesn’t yield beautiful images, I was amazed (DVX100). And the storytelling is masterful.

  • henri

    At the end of the day those people (Rich Hill, …) are trying to reach hollywood or work for TV. They want to be looked as artists, their trailer is like any actual hollywood fiction movie’s trailer or an advertising campaign to raise funds. They just want to look beautiful, called creative, make the audience feeling emotional and have enough money to go to rest on sun resort holidays twice a year. They all give the same treatment to the picture. Fashionable. “Beautiful poors, we have a message for you.” Do they have to thank back them then ? Do they not have one (or many) message(s) as they would need a journalist ? They want to be loved and admired by everybody and they don’t explore anything. Just about pleasing the ego, being right. No open questions, no thoughts about human nature. Who do they critic ? It is like going to the church : we are all guilty of our human nature, we have to give money to the filmmakers (when it’s not NGO or governments), and listen to what they say. Sad. Talking like a left side politician with the brush of Monet. Maybe it would be more interesting not to always want to dictate to people what they should think or how they should look at things in terms of moral. I guess those filmmakers are ironic enough to pretend that they don’t do that. Life is hard and if they were about to change something, they wouldn’t be screening in all festivals hold by governments … They are not the impressionists of our time : they are the established ! They are not the nouvelle vague of our days : they are raising funds ! Playing with guilty religion culture to become famous. I think we are to be more exigent than nostalgics. It is not as binary as it is described in this article : the good and the bad, the rich and the poor.

  • A.G. Vermouth

    I appreciate your perspective and the question you’ve posed. However, I’d go so far as to say the “social issue” docs you speak of are most often closer to being “poverty porn,” and “art docs” like “Rich Hill” and “Pine Ridge” actually end up being less exploitative of their subjects, as those subjects’ stories are not manipulated with a paternalistic POV.

    Having produced both “art” docs and series of grant-funded films for large poverty NGOs, I’d have to say your definition of “poverty porn” here is a bit misplaced. In my experience, “poverty porn” is just as you’ve described above in your sixth paragraph: those docs that feature the barefoot children of the developing world, usually unsmiling with bloated bellies, tears in their eyes, and a VO that puts whatever English words into their mouths that a producer deems appropriate…. usually to sell an audience on donating money to a cause. THAT’s “poverty porn” in my book, and it’s a long-running trend I, for one, have tried to reverse in my filmmaking by instead using the genuine voices of the subjects to tell their own stories.

    Looking at the list of favorite docs in your bio, I’d have to say only two of the five are “social issue” docs. The other three are “art” or “biographical,” and as such strike me as apolitical. The other two, though very well crafted, were the ones that raised my ire at the exploitation of their subjects, and manipulated viewers to indignant or maudlin tears. In fact, I think Andrew Jarecki probably became more obsessed with Jesse Friedman’s cause after having to defend accusations that his film misrepresented the facts in order to further his cause. I happen to think Jesse Friedman is innocent, and that the Nassau County employees in the film display a willfully ignorant mob mentality, but isn’t that just the film guiding my perceptions? And should it be my place as a viewer to judge a situation from one particular POV—that of a filmmaker WITH a cause? Me? I’d rather look at honest art.